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World Series TV ratings soar
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10/22/2003  9:21 PM ET 
World Series TV ratings soar
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The Marlins celebrate after winning the NLCS to earn a spot in the World Series. (Anne Ryan/AP)
Continuing a trend of soaring TV viewership in this Major League postseason, ratings for the first three games of the World Series on FOX were up collectively and individually for the first time since 1999.

The New York Yankees' 6-1 victory over the Florida Marlins in Game 3 on Tuesday posted a national rating of 12.5 with a 21 share, an increase of 16 percent over last year's rating of 10.8 and 18 share.

The first three FOX telecasts of this World Series averaged an 11.9 rating and 21 share, up 10 percent over last year's 10.8 and 19 share for Anaheim and San Francisco.

Ratings for the entire postseason are 40 percent better than 2002. This postseason has averaged a 10.1 and 18 share, while last year's drew a 7.2 and 13.

The ratings for the first two rounds were also the highest since 1999, as fans were captivated by an eight-team field that included seven franchises that were around when the World Series began in 1903. The 2003 World Series ratings suggest that the momentum has carried over after those unforgettable seven-game series in both the National League and American League Championship Series.

Coverage of each LCS led FOX to eight household wins in prime time from Oct. 7-16 -- a string of prime time rating wins unprecedented in the network's history. The Yankees-Red Sox Game 7 of the ALCS (17.1) and Marlins-Cubs Game 7 of the NLCS (16.9) produced the two highest-rated nights of prime-time programming on any network to that point during the 2003-04 network TV season.

An average of 27.5 million TV viewers watched Aaron Boone's walk-off homer beat the Red Sox -- the largest average viewership for any LCS games since 1991. In a year-to-year comparison, the overall average household rating for the 2003 LCS on FOX was 65 percent higher than the average rating for the 2002 LCS -- representing the greatest year-to-year percent increase in LCS history and the biggest year-to-year jump for any sports event in recent history.

FOX coverage of Game 4 of the ALCS (11.6) gave Major League Baseball its first-ever LCS ratings victory over Monday Night Football (8.4), beating ABC's prime time Rams-Falcons telecast by 38 percent. Prime time LCS games averaged an 11.8/20 household rating and share, which at the time eclipsed the season-to-date Monday Night Football average of 11.5/19.

Television coverage of the 2003 Division Series achieved record playoff audiences for FOX, ESPN and ESPN2, according to Nielsen.

The Division Series provided FOX with its four top-rated prime-time shows during that week of games, while also doubling the average rating for the periods in which games aired compared to the week prior. The Division Series also gave ESPN its two best ratings for that week, while delivering the four largest audiences ever recorded by ESPN2 in the network's history.

The Division Series also drew the largest average audiences ever on cable, with combined coverage on ESPN and ESPN2 averaging three million homes and nearly four million viewers over 13 telecasts (ESPN televised nine games; ESPN2 televised four games).

The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, even if they are not in use. Each rating point represents 1,084,000 homes.

Mark Newman is a writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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